‘Blood on his hands’: Trump impeached for second time

Washington: Donald Trump has become the first president in US history to be impeached twice after the US House of Representatives found him guilty of inciting last week's deadly riot at the Capitol.

The House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump on Thursday (AEDT) with just a week remaining until the end of his presidency and the start of the Biden administration.

The US House of Representatives during the speeches prior to the vote to impeach President Donald Trump, inset.Credit:AP

The impeachment vote took place in a dramatically fortified Capitol, where hundreds of National Guard troops slept overnight on the floor while guarding the building.

Ten Republicans crossed the aisle to vote to impeach Trump for the "incitement of insurrection", a contrast to December 2019 when all House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a speech before the vote, said: "He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation we all love."

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell announced before the House vote that a Senate trial would not be held until after Democrat Joe Biden's inauguration, meaning Trump will serve out the remainder of his term.

Members of the National Guard rest to a bust of Abraham Lincoln in a hallway of the US Capitol building in Washington ahead of Trump’s second impeachment vote.Credit:Bloomberg

The Senate could still act to ban Trump from seeking political office again if it a two-thirds majority votes to convict him of "high crimes and misdemeanours".

Republican congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who voted to impeach Trump, said in a statement: "The President of the United States helped organise and incite a mob that attacked the United States Congress in an attempt to prevent us from completing our solemn duties as prescribed by the constitution."

His Republican colleague Peter Meijer said he had voted with a "heavy heart" to impeach Trump.

"President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week," he said in a statement.

The vast majority of House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump, arguing that it was pointless to impeach him so close to the end of his presidency and that Democrats had rushed the process.

Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, said: "The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on congress by mob violence."

He added: "What we saw last week was not the American way. Neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president."

But McCarthy said impeachment was unnecessarily divisive and that he preferred a symbolic censure of Trump as well as a bipartisan fact-finding commission to examine how the Capitol riot occurred.

Andy Briggs, a Republican congressman from Arizona, said: "Instead of stopping the Trump train, his movement will grow stronger for you will have made him a martyr."

Some Republicans said that Trump had been using political hyperbole when he urged his supporters to "fight like hell" against the certification of Biden's victory.

In her short speech before the vote, Democratic congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard said "This President has blood on his hands."

Democratic congressman Hakeem Jeffries described Trump as a "living, breathing impeachable offence".

In a statement before the vote Trump said: "I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind […] I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers."

The Democrats' article of impeachment said that Trump had "gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government".

"He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperilled a co-equal branch of government," the impeachment resolution continued.

"He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the United States."

Liz Cheney, the third most senior Republican in the House, said that she supported impeachment because Trump "summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack".

"Everything that followed was his doing," she said in a statement the night before the vote.

"There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the constitution."

Trump Biden 2020

Understand the election result and its aftermath with expert analysis from US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Times‘ here and WAtoday‘s here. 

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